The count of sexual crimes that occur in schools will continue to rise if ministries such as the Education Ministry does not start showing seriousness towards the matter.
It is already difficult as it is to get children’s parents or victims of sexual crimes to come forward and lodge a police report, but it seems that even with a police report made today, justice has yet to catch up with perpetrators still on the loose.
In a most recent case highlighted by PKR Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, she questioned the Education Ministry’s refusal to act on an alleged sexual abuse case involving a private religious school in Perak.
The PKR vice-president said it was disappointing that the ministry refused interference using an excuse that the case is under the state government’s purview.
Nurul Izzah added that the allegations of sexual abuse are proof that shortcomings exist in Malaysia’s legal system.
It is not just the lack of available platform for complaints and support for parents post sexual crimes committed, but the current system is still of letting a teacher (perpetrator) continue to teach in a school where an alleged offence is claimed to have happened.
In some cases, teachers (perpetrators) are just is transferred to another school or a different department.
Says Penang Institute board member Steven Sim, there is too much leniency given to perpetrators.
“Transferring the teacher to another school is not a solution. If he is guilty, he should be sacked, and pending investigation, he should not even be allowed to be in contact with vulnerable groups.
“Not only children in schools but they should not be allowed to occupations that allows access to the public. This is where the sexual offender registry comes in where the perpetrators can be monitored and not be given jobs of such nature,’ says Sim.
Sim adds that even in court, a child rapist was recently acquitted simply because he agreed to marry the victim.
“There are many other similar cases where the perpetrator is let off the hook just because he has promised to do something in return and is seen as good will.
“This the system’s weakness where it does not seem to see the seriousness of the matter.
“Rape and murder is not something that can be undone or repaired, the system must not accommodate perpetrators.
“The court should not allow leniency on these perpetrators no matter what the context is. The point is, sexual crime is done there is no paying back,” Sim adds.
Sim who is also the Penang state government’s Women, Family and Community Development Committee says the society needs to start taking children seriously.
“Why are people in position (teachers or educators) never suspicious? Why doesn’t anybody trust their child?
“Just because children are playful, does not mean that they are lesser humans than adults are.
“Teachers’ training need improvement and these programmes need to include training teachers about gender equality.
“It is the disrespect of the opposite sex that leads to bully and eventually to sexual crimes deeming that one gender is greater or stronger than the other,” he says.
He adds that the society is still lacking in the idea of gender equality where teachers are included in this equation of the unawareness.
“There is a great need to inculcate gender equality in teachers in order for them learn how to respect the children that they teach and handle.
“It is basic values of respecting human sexuality that is still lacking in the education ministry,” says Sim.
Soo Wern Jun